macrohistory & world report

Kingdom of Tonga

Location of Tonga Archipelago

Location of Tonga Archipelago

World Factbook as of November 2014: "Tonga has a small, open, South Pacific island economy. It has a narrow export base in agricultural goods. Squash, vanilla beans, and yams are the main crops. Agricultural exports, including fish, make up two-thirds of total exports. The country must import a high proportion of its food, mainly from New Zealand. The country remains dependent on external aid and remittances from Tongan communities overseas to offset its trade deficit. Tourism is the second-largest source of hard currency earnings following remittances. Tonga had 39,000 visitors in 2006. The government is emphasizing the development of the private sector, especially the encouragement of investment, and is committing increased funds for health and education. Tonga has a reasonably sound basic infrastructure and well developed social services. High unemployment among the young, moderate inflation, pressures for democratic reform, and rising civil service expenditures are major issues facing the government."

Economic growth rate
2011: 1.4%
2010: 0.3%
2009: minus 0,3%

Labor force in agriculture
2003: 31.8%

Export commodities
Squash, fish, vanilla beans and root crops.

Export/import ratio
2006: $22 miliion, imports $139 mllion. (World Factbook 2012: The country remains dependent on external aid and remittances from Tongan communities overseas to offset its trade deficit.)

Health expenditures
2009: 6.2% of GDP


Living in an urban area:
2010: 23%

Net migration rate
2012: Net loss of 17.9 persons per 1,000 population per year (1,900 people).

Density for 2005: 156.5 per square kilometer.

Literacy, Age 15 and Older
2003: males 98.4 percent, females 98.7 percent <

Polynesian. About 300 Europeans.

Christian – largely Free Wesleyan


More than 150 islands, south of Samoa and East of Fiji.  The largest island, Tongatapu, is equivalent to  16 by 16 kilometers or 10  by 10 miles.


Tonga remains the only monarchy in the Pacific.

A hereditary constitutional monarchy. Its legal system is based on English law.

Parliament has thirty members, 21 of whom perpetually remain hereditary noblemen.

Capital: Nuku'alofa.

Recent History

World Factbook: Tonga – unique among Pacific nations – never completely lost its indigenous governance. The archipelagos of "The Friendly Islands" were united into a Polynesian kingdom in 1845. Tonga became a constitutional monarchy in 1875 and a British protectorate in 1900. It withdrew from the protectorate and joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970.

December 14, 2004: In the week ahead, a  platoon of the Royal Tongan Marines who have been serving in Iraq will return to Tonga. Forty-five men, all volunteers went to Iraq in July for a six-month tour of duty and served alongside US Marines.

The World Factbook

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